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STL Aria: Very disappointed
Topic Started: 26 Apr 2018, 04:22 PM (958 Views)
simon
Member Avatar
Pendant Ocarinist x 3
A bit of background: I pretty new to ocarina (so feel free to take my view with a pinch of salt), however, I have been playing music on other instruments for many years (including recorder).

First the benchmark: I recently bought a Stein Model D - It was my first ceramic ocarina. I cost less than the Aria and arrived with a padded bag, cleaning tool and microfibre cloth. It's matte black and this is clearly part of the firing process. The finish is immaculate, indestructible and silky smooth.

Even as a beginner I was able to produce clean focused notes right off the bat. The intonation is perfect and apart from the top E note, it's pretty much free from breathiness. It doesn't seem to require an acute bend to play higher notes.

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Much as I'm growing to love my Stein ocarina, I wondered if I could get something a little better, and the long tail of the Aria (for ease of playing) particularly appealed to me.
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The Aria arrived today - It cost quite a bit more than the Stein. The box contains no padded bag or extras other than a very thin book of John Dowland tunes (which are easily available for free online)

My first major shock was the finish, it's horrible (particularly when compared to the Stein). It's semi-gloss with faint brushmarks and it's tacky to the touch. Rather than a glaze, this ocarina seems to have had black paint applied to it after firing - and it's not fully dried. Just to test, I scratched the underside of the instrument with my fingernail, and sure enough, the black paint came away showing white beneath it. Needless to say, this is probably the worst possible texture for smooth finger movement.

The Aria is unbelievably breathy across the whole range. It sounds like I'm being accompanied by someone letting air out of a tyre. As you can imagine, soundwise the Stein eclipses the Aria, but I've just picked up my plastic Night Noble and that also puts the Aria in the shade. Really, the Aria is pretty much unplayable.

I'm aware that my first impressions fly in the face of all the glowing Aria reviews, and I'm sure some people will want to tell me how much they love their Arias, but for me, this doesn't look, feel or sound like a high-quality product. From now on, I think I'll stick with Stein/Focalink.


P.S. I've just noticed that the right-hand sub hole is actually outside of the indent, making it almost impossible to play.

Edited by simon, 26 Apr 2018, 04:31 PM.
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 5
You could have gotten a faulty ocarina. I would request an exchange to find out. Also keeping in mind that the aria could have different breathe requirements, are you playing it with a tuner at all? I have never used an aria but in my experience some stein ocarinas can be much more forgiving.
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Saki
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Surprisingly not dead
Honestly I think STL has some quality control issues lately. I also ordered an Aria a year or so back... It seemed to have a damaged voicing and was incapable of playing above high C...

Contact STL costumer support and they should be able to help you out. They sent me a new one which worked much better.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
It's the same here, anything including and above high C is pretty much unplayable. I guess it could just be a damaged or faulty one. Frankly, I wish Stein made an instrument with the extended horn. The overall design concept of the Aria is very sound, it's just a pity about the execution.
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 5
To be honest I think quality control has always been an issue with them. They have a couple ocarinas that usually seem to be consistently good, but overall it feels like russian roulette. I stopped considering their stuff a while back because of quality issues, and I also hate the idea of paying $8+ in shipping and waiting a week to get something 20 minutes away.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
Well, I've fired off an email to them explaining the situation. I guess I'll just have to wait and see if they get back to me.
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Harp Player
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Triple Ocarinist
SLT is an ocarina reseller. I suggest you buy from instrument makers instead. A reputable maker will stand behind their product, and will fine tune and test it before shipping it to you.
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 5
You may want to call them if you don't hear back in a few days. I had issues with them responding to emails and they did make it much more difficult than it needed to be. I'm sure I mentioned this a hundred times now but they made me send a sound sample just to tell me their expert said it sounded fine so I had to send a sample of what it should have sounded like for them to compare and then agree it was off. Things got done a lot quicker once I started calling.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
Thanks, Kae, but I live in the UK so I'm not going to embark on a series of long-distance calls. I feel like it may be just throwing good money after bad. Frankly, sending out faulty, low-quality goods and then following up with zero customer service doesn't seem like a recipe for financial success, but maybe things work differently in the U.S.

Also (based on my limited experience), I tend to agree with Harp Player: By ordering direct from a (reputable) manufacturer in China, I'm likely to get a better, cheaper and more quickly delivered product.

Also, as someone who occasionally has cause to visit China on business, I anticipate that on my next return trip I may be accompanied by a suitcase full of ocarinas. I realise to many people, China has become synonymous with low-quality, high-volume manufacturing (and I'm sure both Amazon and Taobao are littered with examples of low-quality ocarinas), but it's worth remembering that in the area of ceramics, China does not and has never had an equal. During the hight of the British Empire, English potters strived to emulate the ceramics that were being imported from China, but never really succeeded.

Anyway, I've been looking at the Stein site and noticed that the Model B has quite a long tail. I think this ocarina will do me nicely, and I doubt it will arrive having just been sprayed with clack aerosol paint.

We live and learn.
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Harp Player
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Triple Ocarinist
Contact Robert Hickman He makes an excellent Ocarina and he is right there in the UK. Here is his website:

http://pureocarinas.com/

I have also heard good things about Jade Everett's Ocarinas she is also located in the UK. Sadly I don't have her website.
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ProbablyNot
Inline Ocarinist x 2
Harp Player
28 Apr 2018, 07:08 PM
Contact Robert Hickman He makes an excellent Ocarina and he is right there in the UK. Here is his website:

http://pureocarinas.com/

I have also heard good things about Jade Everett's Ocarinas she is also located in the UK. Sadly I don't have her website.
Jade Everett is selling on etsy now. Here is the link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EverettOcarinas

I got one of her ocarinas a few years ago. It has been my favorite since then.

Edited by ProbablyNot, 28 Apr 2018, 09:03 PM.
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Ocypode
Double Ocarinist
Focalinks are apparently all made in mainland China.
There's also Imperial City Ocarina.

I wonder if you can get a better deal for these if you are in China.
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 5
Ah sorry sometimes I forget there are so many people in different countries on here. STL seems to cater more toward younger people, parents, and new players looking for some cheaper options. Last I heard they were also doing some kind of programs with schools and they offered music lessons. Some people seem to have better luck with customer service than others, but overall it seems like they have enough going on for them that they choose when to care about it.
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WindSong
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I'm sorry to hear about the poor quality of your Aria.
Not sure if you're aware, but the Aria was designed by Cris Gayle. I'm sure she'd be sad to hear about the poor production quality.
She might be able to help you. No promises.
You might try direct messaging her here on The Ocarina Network. Her user name is Ocarinadiva.
The production quality is on STL, though, not her, so if you do contact her, please don't disrespect her.
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Harp Player
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Triple Ocarinist
I haven't seen Ocarina Diva on here in a very long time. I would suggest looking her up on fakebook if you have an account.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
@Harp Player @ProbablyNot
Thank you, both these makers seem very interesting. I note that they both make eleven rather than twelve hole ocarinas. I'm quite conscious of the limited range of the single chambered ocarina, and a little worried about reducing it even further. I wonder if eleven holes really do have an advantage over twelve.

@Ocypode
Yes, I believe that even the Taiwanese brands are manufactured in mainland China. Although it's worth noting that the Chinese do consider Taiwan to still be part of China.

In my experience, the transverse ocarina doesn't seem that popular in mainland China, and therefore may not be so easy to acquire through retail outlets. Their preference is probably for the Xun (Chinese egg ocarina).

Rather perversely, many products which are manufactured in China are not that easy to purchase there. Often these products are exported and then reimported. Once import tax has been added, these products can end up being considerably more expensive. For example, even though Apple products are generally manufactured in China, it's cheaper to buy them in the UK or the colonies.

@Kae
Yep, the general opinion seems to be that STL sucks. I guess most companies reach a point where their love of money begins to take precedence over there passion for their products. Perhaps this is a good argument for buying from individual makers. That said, a disregard for quality control and customer service will eventually impact any company, and often repairing that company's reputation can be very costly. Small companies which operate in niche markets usually prioritise their customers, but it seems that STL is an exception.

@WindSong
Yes, Gale's videos played some part in my decision to purchase the Aria. As a realist, I am aware that most signature products that we see in the hands of their promoters are in all likelihood a little more bespoke than those that are released into the wild. I just didn't expect the gap in quality to be so large. Gale played no part in my transaction and as such, she bears no responsibility and contacting her would probably be of little help.

As an Englishman and a gentleman, I recoil at the suggestion that I would be capable of showing disrespect in any way, shape or form. However, may I respectfully request that you show a reciprocal and equal amount of respect for my native language by not using the word 'disrespect' as a verb. I appreciate that as a colonist, your grasp of the English Language may be somewhat tentative, but my understanding is that, even in the Americas, using 'disrespect' as a verb is only really acceptable if you are a gangsta rapper. If you are in fact a gangsta rapper, please disregard my previous comments.

As I have clearly illustrated, the merest suggestion that I would show disrespect (n.) is an anathema. /s

@Harp Player
To be honest Harp Player, with the Aria I have been through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually reached acceptance. The Aria is now dead to me. It has passed on. This ocarina is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker.

Each day I grow fonder of my Stein model D, and as we speak, a new Model B is winging its way from the heart of the Orient to the slum dwellings of foggy London town. Meanwhile, I am considering selling the Aria on eBay for use as a marital aid.
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WindSong
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Hi simon,

My intention was to point out that Cris did more than promote the Aria. She designed it. That being the case, even though STL is responsible for the production, she might be willing to contact them on your behalf. I don't know that, but it could be worth a try.

I'm sorry if I offended you. My words were said because I don't know you, but I do know the Internet. People are more apt to be rude to one another on the Internet than they are in real life. Common knowledge. It was not meant as a personal slur. My apologies.

My motive was to be helpful.
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Kitten Forest
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Double Ocarinist x 2
I've heard really hit or miss reviews of STL. Quite a few professional ocarina players I follow say they love the Aria, but then I hear stories like this. My favourite ocarinas are from Focalink/Stein, Imperial City Ocarina, and Rotter. I don't think Rotter is still making ocarinas, but I've had good experience with international shipping from Imperial City Ocarina. I have a triple from them and I have no complaints with it.
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CFWhitman
Initiate
I just wanted to provide a bit more information. To the best of my knowledge STL ocarinas are all manufactured by TNG Ocarina in Taiwan. They don't have the greatest reputation for quality control (though they don't have the worst either). They are certainly not as highly regarded as Focalink/Stein. There are good and bad ocarina makers all around the world. Even though some of the best makers are in China, some of the worst makers are located there as well.

The Focalink ocarinas I have are nice ocarinas. I have one ocarina from Pure Ocarinas in the UK, and it is a good ocarina. I have two ocarinas from Hamlett Ocarinas in the US, and they are good. I have three ocarinas from Claudio Colombo in Italy. They are quality instruments. I have an ocarina from ICO, and it seems to be a good ocarina (it is still new to me, so I don't have a complete opinion on it yet).

One thing of note is that each ocarina you get will be different from the others. You can't fully evaluate an ocarina until you have played it for a while. To be clear, an ocarina with serious flaws will generally reveal them immediately. However, an ocarina that may seem not terribly good at first can become one of your favorites once you get used to it.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
@WindSong
Absolutely no apology necessary (except perhaps from myself). It was all intended to be very tongue in cheek.

@Kitten Forest
I'm still very much a beginner, but I can certainly vouch for the quality of the Focalink/Stein which I have. Hopefully, the model B will be equally good. The Imperial City ocarinas do look rather sexy, but I fear that I might be developing OAS (Ocarina Aquisition Syndrome).

@CFWhitman
Thank you for your points. Even as a beginner I am beginning to see that every ocarina has its own character and requires its own way of playing. So far, I have the Stein Model D, Focalink Plastic and Noble Night. However, I think the only way that this Aria is going to make any meaningful contribution to a musical performance is if it is fired out of a canon during the 1812 overture.
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zeroG
Beginner
Quote:
 
However, may I respectfully request that you show a reciprocal and equal amount of respect for my native language by not using the word 'disrespect' as a verb. I appreciate that as a colonist, your grasp of the English Language may be somewhat tentative, but my understanding is that, even in the Americas, using 'disrespect' as a verb is only really acceptable if you are a gangsta rapper.

Careful. Someone might think you're disrespecting all Americans. *wink*

It's quite common to encounter "disrespect" as a verb. Here's an example. A google search will yield countless others. It's worth noting that "disrespect" has been used as a verb (correctly) for centuries.

Anyway, sorry to hear about your STL experience. I hope they're able to resolve the situation to your liking.
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 5
Disrespect can be used as a verb in America, however it is considered informal, which you would ideally not want to use on an essay, article, or in a professional environment. Using an online article is actually not a good example. They tend to completely ignore basic grammar and they can be horribly redundant in their wording. That aside, I hope you get some kind of compensation for your aria. If you don't hear from them in a couple of days maybe you could find someone to contact them for you? Unless that is more effort than it is worth at this point.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
You're right, of course. I think 'disrespect' (as a verb) goes back to at least 17c in the UK, although it's not really in common use outside of certain groups. I wouldn't say this usage is grammatically incorrect, but that its revival by certain groups makes its use undesirable. We start with, "Yo disin' my fam bruh", and before we know it we're getting a cap popped in our Gluteus Maximus.

The young people on TV that always use this word, seem to be the ones who have little understanding of what the word actually means, offer no respect to others and are unable to deal with the concept that respect must be earned. Obviously, I don't count Windsong as one of these individuals. Christ! I think I'm becoming my grandfather.

I have the same problem with putting the word 'super' before everything or describing everything as 'awesome'.

Anyway, I've decided to bury the Aria in the garden. By next year I should have an awesome crop of ocarinae. I'm super excited.
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CFWhitman
Initiate
By what I've seen, the UK version of "awesome" (as an overused, exaggerated description for anything the person really likes) is "brilliant." Of course it had its predecessors. Over here in the U.S. I recall such terms as "neat" and "cool" in times gone by. They seem a bit less exaggerated than using "awesome" for everything, though "cool" in particular seems even less technically apropos.

I had heard something along the lines of, 'You shouldn't disrespect your elders,' before the shortened "dis'" slang term (which I tend to think of as obnoxious) became popular. It does indeed date back to the seventeenth century, and was not considered improper usage in any way, though it may have begun to slip into obscurity.

@simon
Incidentally, I didn't intend to imply in my last post that you just needed to get used to the Aria that you have. By what you said, it indeed sounds like that particular ocarina is defective. I just meant that people generally shouldn't judge their new ocarinas' overall characteristics too quickly, before they have put forth an effort to get used to them.
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 5
If I am being honest, I am guilty of saying "neato burrito" more often than I am comfortable to admit. :X
I hear ocarinae are difficult to grow. Good luck!
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Ocypode
Double Ocarinist
Your ideas to deal with a defective ocarina are awesome.
But your too hard on this ocarina: you should not dis your Aria.

;)

(I'm French: that gives me the right to butcher English as much as I can: it's in my genes :) )
More seriously, thank you for your insights on ocarinas in China. I think I should open a new topic on that to have some infos.
Edited by Ocypode, 2 May 2018, 09:39 AM.
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Harp Player
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Triple Ocarinist
simon
30 Apr 2018, 11:52 AM
@Harp Player @ProbablyNot
Thank you, both these makers seem very interesting. I note that they both make eleven rather than twelve hole ocarinas. I'm quite conscious of the limited range of the single chambered ocarina, and a little worried about reducing it even further. I wonder if eleven holes really do have an advantage over twelve.
The main difference between the 11 hole and the 12 hole is you no longer have the sub hole (note below the stated key) and you have better sound quality. For many people that is an acceptable trade off. The sub hole is usually much softer and of poor sound quality as well.

If you need extra range I would suggest that you look at getting a multi chambered ocarina, or that you wait a very short time and get a CODA. I am a beta tester for them and it is a wonderful instrument. The main problem that I see most people would have with it is the fingering pattern for the chromatic notes is different from a standard ocarina. The main advantage of the CODA over other multi chambered instruments is you don't have to shift your fingers when you switch chambers and you get 2 complete octaves with just 2 chambers.
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CFWhitman
Initiate
The Viccinelli fingered double ocarinas I have cover 2 octaves (not counting any subhole notes). I'm at least somewhat interested in the CODA, though. My biggest gripe with the Mountain ocarinas I already own is that the thumb holes are reversed from a standard transverse or inline for no particular reason.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
In the interests of fairness, I should probably state that having asked for a sound recording, STL has offered to send out another Aria. I think this is most decent of them.

@CFWhitman
@Kae
To be honest, I may be giving my grammar nazi alter ego a little too much free rein. Ultimately I guess the primary purpose of language is to communicate. We only have to look at Chaucer or Shakespear to see how much English has changed over a relatively short space of time. Amongst certain groups in the UK, it has become quite fashionable to criticize American English, but in some cases, US English is a snapshot of the Language spoken by the settlers and it is the UK English that has changed.
I think language is in a constant state of flux and trying to nail it down would be a Canutian folly.

@Ocypode
I teach English to Chinese students and take it from me, the worst people for butchering the English language are the English themselves. If your screen name is an allusion to the plural of octopus, then I'm impressed. Most people use octopi, but of course, the correct plural (it being Greek rather than Latin) should probably be octopode.

@Harp Player
You make the 11 hole ocarina sound pretty appealing. I've also noticed that (for handmade instruments), both Robert's and Jade's ocarinas seem very competitively priced.

What is this CODA you speak of?
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Harp Player
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Triple Ocarinist
Quote:
 

You make the 11 hole ocarina sound pretty appealing. I've also noticed that (for handmade instruments), both Robert's and Jade's ocarinas seem very competitively priced.

What is this CODA you speak of?


The CODA is a new product that is being developed by Karl Ahrens (the maker of the Mountain Ocarina). It is an inline double with one chamber nested inside the other, and one set of bisected tone holes. You do still have to move your mouth to switch chambers, just not your fingers. You can also play both chambers at the same time if you wish. Karl is working out few kinks in the production process. Because he wants to make sure that every instrument meets his standards of being a professional quality instrument before he starts selling and shipping them. I hope I haven't already said too much. So I won't say any more.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
@Harp Player
That sounds very cool, but does it have a triforce?
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Titouan
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The Fluffiest Maker :3
xD No, it doesn't have a triforce :')

I found some pictures of a prototype:

CODA Prototype
Edited by Titouan, 3 May 2018, 11:26 AM.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
Well, I think I've ironed out some of the more glaring design kinks:
Attached to this post:
Attachments: coda03_copy.jpg (173.86 KB)
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Titouan
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The Fluffiest Maker :3
I love this design xD
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Ocypode
Double Ocarinist
The second picture of the prototype looks like a beeper... And I would not carry this visible in the US... Might get shot if someone confuses it with the handle of a gun...

If I understand how the coda works, I suppose that the holes for the two chambers are grouped...

About my screen name: it's actually the genus name for some species of ghost crabs.
So, I'm not a champion in Greek neither Latin. Funny thing: the Merriam Webster tells us that the plural form of octopus is octopuses (the English-way) or Octopi (the latin way)... Yet, an octopus in Latin is "polypus", so there is little sense to use a Latin plural...
So thank you for the head-up, that was interesting!
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
@Ocypode
In reality, octopuses and octopi have become the established norm through common usage rather than logic. Logic doesn't have a lot to do with the English language.

Actually, we have a whole bunch of half Greek half Latin words. They're called hybrid words:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_word
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WindSong
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simon
3 May 2018, 12:21 PM
Well, I think I've ironed out some of the more glaring design kinks:
Hmmm... well the colour's nice... but that triforce makes it look like a kid's toy.

Do not have, nor will I ever buy, an ocarina with a triforce. (Karl, I hope you're listening. ;-p )

Of course this is my personal opinion. We each have our personal preferences. :)

I am looking forward to the Coda.
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Harp Player
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Triple Ocarinist
WindSong
3 May 2018, 09:42 PM
simon
3 May 2018, 12:21 PM
Well, I think I've ironed out some of the more glaring design kinks:
Hmmm... well the colour's nice... but that triforce makes it look like a kid's toy.

Do not have, nor will I ever buy, an ocarina with a triforce. (Karl, I hope you're listening. ;-p )

Of course this is my personal opinion. We each have our personal preferences. :)

I am looking forward to the Coda.
I can assure you that the CODA don't have a triforce logo on it. That was as joke and a photoshop job.
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simon
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Pendant Ocarinist x 3
I've checked this out on Wikipedia and it seems that without the Triforce, an ocarina will have very limited weather modification capabilities. Actually, I had a word with my uncle (who has read books about this kind of thing), and he informed me that without the Triforce, the magic will gradually seep out of the ocarina until it is nothing more than a musical instrument.

In fact, in some parts of Europe, it is illegal to import ocarinae unless they bear some kind of runic symbol - The potential for thaumic contamination is considered just too great.
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WindSong
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Harp Player: Of course it was a photoshop. Just didn't want Karl to get any ideas. :-p

simon: Thank you for taking the time to do that solid research. That's good to know. Since I prefer magicless ocarinas, good thing I live in Canada, yes? You see, if an ocarina has magic of it's own, that can wreak havoc with the magic that emanates from my finger tips. My finger magic is not very strong, so I must be careful when purchasing an ocarina. :)
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Harp Player
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Triple Ocarinist
The Zelda - Ocarina connection is a bit of a sticking point with many people. On one hand it helped introduce the Ocarina to a generation that would have never heard of it otherwise, on the other hand the thousands of bad Zelda songs on youtube has branded it as a geek instrument. I had heard of the first Zelda game way back in the days of 8 bit computers, but I didn't realize that it had went beyond that first game or that the later games had an Ocarina in them until after I started looking for Ocarina music to listen to. It was very hard to find any good examples of Ocarina music because of the crap.

BTW I still haven't ever played any of the Zelda songs on my Ocarinas
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jordan.1210
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Transverse Ocarinist x 3
I'm with Harp Player, don't know any LoZ songs on oc and don't have an urge to learn any. Tbh, I kinda find the ocarina/LoZ connection kinda annoying at times. Shopping-wise, it's harder to find quality instruments. Playing-wise, when I tell people I have an oc or pull one out to play one, Zelda songs are usually one of the first things that they ask me to play. Maybe this is just because I didn't get into ocarinas from LoZ (I got my first because I liked the sound, and since then I've developed a thing for unique/obscure instruments). Then again, maybe I got into them indirectly from LoZ since I got one after watching David's videos on Youtube and I think he got his first based on LoZ. \_(ツ)_/
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Ocypode
Double Ocarinist
Only know one song from LoZ... But I was really disappointed... I expected it would be the same as in the game, and guess what:
1) There is no effect on weather at all. Even when it's about to rain, the song of storm does not make the rain fall any faster.
2) After playing the 6 or 8 first note, even if I pay attention, I cannot hear any (midi) orchestra playing alongside me...

I guess I was wrong to choose ocarina without a triforce on it... :)


[Edit: more seriously, I find the LoZ songs really nice, I should learn more of them, but I just have not taken the time yet).
Edited by Ocypode, 5 May 2018, 01:41 PM.
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Kae
Transverse Ocarinist x 5
I never had any real interest in playing LoZ songs, but my brother plays a lot of them on piano and wanted me to learn to play some with him. They can be fun to play.
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Geeky
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Beginner
I have a friend who bought an Ocarina of Time Double Chamber from STL about a year ago. He had no problems whatsoever with the oc. Sounded good and there weren't any problems with the finish or anything.
I guess it's really just a matter of luck when it comes to buying from STL. :P
I hope you find a solution soon!
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